The European Commission has today published a Staff Working Document titled Closing the Climate Protection Gap – Scoping policy and data gaps .
The European Union’s resilience to climate-related economic losses is not a given. It reflects the myriad of decisions and choices made over time, in different circumstances and with different priorities, as well as those decisions being made now and those yet to be made. Making informed decisions on where to allocate limited time, effort and money in order to reduce risk and protect things of value is crucial. Our ability to reduce the share of potential economic losses from climate change occurring to uninsured assets and activities – the climate protection gap – will determine a large part of our societies’ resilience.
This Commission Staff Working Document is part of the knowledge base underpinning the 2021 EU Climate Adaptation Strategy, and some of the measures to close the climate protection gap that will be undertaken in the context of the upcoming Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy. It may also be relevant for other policy- and decision-makers on adaptation issues at national, regional and local level.
Given the unavoidable rise of climate pressures in the years ahead, the EU and its Member States need to review their financial preparedness to deal with adverse climate impacts at macroeconomic level. Climate-driven events pose risks to private and public assets and economic activities. As losses occur, households, firms and governments are affected. Beyond individual impacts that may have adverse and disruptive effects on wellbeing, equality, cohesion, health, productivity and business activities, the increasing frequency and size of climate-related economic losses raises risks of adverse systemic impacts with important spill-overs across borders.
Climate-related risk management is best designed at sectoral level. It is therefore important to reexamine and, where relevant, redesign policy instruments that integrate climate-related disaster risk management, following a set of flexible policy coherence principles that can be adapted to all sectors and circumstances. Such policy coherence principles are presented in this Staff Working Document, including i) taking into account climate-related disaster risk before creating new exposure, ii) reducing existing climate-related risk by building up resilience, and iii) managing risk financing via risk transfer, notably through climate disaster risk insurance take-up.
Climate-related disaster risk and loss data are crucial to understanding the resilience gap and its many aspects. It is at the heart of disaster risk management. At the same time, analysing climate-related economic loss data is fraught with methodological challenges, given the high variability of data from year to year, the underlying nature of the data, its uneven quality and incompleteness. Section 4 analyses how to promote further open, non-discriminatory and equal access to climate risk and loss relevant data for the benefits of all parts of society.
The term ‘climate protection gap’ is used in reference to the share of non-insured economic losses in total losses after a climate-related catastrophe event. In recent years, it has also been used to refer to the notional gap between likely climate-related impacts and existing resilience measures.
Economic losses from more frequent climate-related extreme weather are increasing. In the EU, these losses alone already average over €12 billion per year. Conservative estimates show that exposing today's EU economy to global warming of 3°C above pre-industrial levels would result in an annual loss of at least €170 billion. Climate change is happening today, so we have to build a more resilient tomorrow.